Simon, played with considerable nuance by Brady Corbet, is an American neuroscience graduate visiting Paris after being dumped by his girlfriend. His expertise, as he explains twice in the film, is peripheral vision. It’s a nifty joke, as Simon is blind to the world around him. Director Antonio Campos and cinematographer Joe Anderson mirrors this blinkered perspective, turning Paris into a hazy blur of tight close-ups in shallow focus and asymmetrical framing.
Like Peeping Tom, Taxi Driver, and Campos’ chilling debut, we’re trapped within the unravelling psyche of an unpleasant protagonist with whom it becomes difficult not to identify. Corbet brilliantly pitches his character on a razor’s edge between pitiful and terrifying: even when he’s being sweet he reeks of malevolence. After weeks of loneliness Simon worms his way into the life of a prostitute (Mati Diop) who falls for his puppy dog eyes and fanciful stories – a big mistake.
With Martha Marcy May Marlene (Sean Durkin), Afterschool and this fascinating examination of masculinity and madness, Borderline Films (the team of Campos, Durkin and Josh Mond) have created a dark, dystopic trilogy about malcontent American youth. Kind of ironic, really, as this trio of filmmakers are among the brightest young talents on the American indie scene. [Jamie Dunn]